CTC – Corporate Travel Community brings you a roundup of the most thought-provoking and interesting comments from those industry leaders in the know.
Amadeus: Coronavirus ‘brought a new layer of complexity’ to travel
Amadeus senior VP airlines R&D Americas Gaelle Bristie commented that the events of 2020 “brought a new layer of complexity” to travel, with many companies forced to cut their budgets and still evolve their offerings to meet new traveller demand and expectations. The coronavirus pandemic has created the need from companies to concentrate on adapting to customer behaviour and travel patterns of the ‘new normal’.
AirAsia Group CEO: Global coordination on COVID-19 ‘horrific’
AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes stated global coordination on COVID-19 by governments is “horrific”, adding: “It’s like nothing I’ve ever heard”. Mr Fernandes said: “The United Nations, with the travel industry, should have come up with some standard protocols” earlier in the pandemic. He added: “I just think that everyone’s… scared and just reacting in a very jingoistic and nationalistic way. I think countries are going to say, unless you’re vaccinated they’re not going to let you in without quarantine”.
ICAO forecasts ‘prolonged depressed demand’ for air travel, any improvement only from 2Q2021
ICAO stated the near term outlook for global air travel is for “prolonged depressed demand”, with downside risks to global travel recovery and further deterioration likely in 1Q2021. ICAO expects any improvement to only develop by 2Q2021, subject to the effectiveness of pandemic management and vaccination rollouts. Under the most optimistic scenario, passenger numbers may recover to 71% of 2019 levels (84% for domestic and 53% for international) by Jun-2021. Under a more pessimistic scenario, traffic may only recover to 49% of 2019 levels (66% domestic and 26% international).
Malaysia Airports: ‘Domestic traffic is not enough to cover our cost of operations’
Malaysia Airports CEO Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh stated the company doesn’t foresee a return to pre pandemic levels before 2023. Mr Shukrie said: “What is more important to us is international traffic. Domestic traffic is not enough to cover our cost of operations”. He added: “The sooner the government opens the borders, more international travellers will come in and then we should be able to return to profitability pretty fast”.
Bahamasair: ‘Things are getting even more restrictive because COVID-19 is mutating’
Bahamasair CEO Tracy Cooper said reservations are at 25% of 2020 levels. Bookings increased in Dec-2020 but dropped again in Jan-2021. Mr Cooper stated: “As you can tell, things are getting even more restrictive because COVID-19 is mutating into something that’s more easily spreadable”.
NATS CEO: Modernising airspace ‘remains our top investment priority’
NATS CEO Martin Rolfe stated modernising airspace “remains our top investment priority because our customers know the benefits it can deliver”, adding that while traffic levels are depressed, “it is a good time for us to crack on with network level change”. NATS’ ultimate objective is to simplify the way aircraft can navigate congested lower airspace, reducing the need for tactical air traffic control interventions, as well as giving pilots in less congested upper airspace the freedom to plan their own routes and only put in constraints when necessary for safety.
Kenya Airways CEO: Asian markets performing well but Europe is ‘quite a struggle’
Kenya Airways Group MD and CEO Allan Kilavuka said Asian markets, particularly China and India, are performing well for the airline, but Europe “has not been a very good story for us”. He said European markets, particularly Amsterdam, London and Paris, have been “quite a struggle for us” due to the resurgence of the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions.
Australia Chief Medical Officer: International borders ‘going to be one of the last things to change’
Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly stated Australia’s international border changes “are probably going to be one of the last things to change rather than the first”. Mr Kelly said Australia is “in such an envious position at the moment compared with the rest of the world” and as coronavirus vaccinations are rolled out, “it’s not going to change everything”.
FlySafair: Extension of curfew in South Africa may have ‘hugely concerning’ impact
FlySafair chief marketing officer Kirby Gordon stated the South African Government’s decision to extend the national curfew may have had a “hugely concerning” impact on sales for Jan-2021. Mr Gordon commented: “Already we’ve seen the available seat capacity shrink again quite dramatically, because the operating day is simply shorter, but the demand has fallen equally, if not more drastically, so still, prices are very low”.
Ultra Air CEO sees ‘great opportunity for another LCC start up in Colombia’
Ultra Air CEO William Shaw stated: “There’s really a great opportunity for another LCC start up in Colombia”. Mr Shaw noted airlines “have been weakened” by the pandemic, adding: “That weakened cash position makes it more interesting and easier to compete as an LCC”. He also noted: “There are plenty of aircraft available right now”. Mr Shaw said Avianca’s restructuring and plans to reduce capacity by 40% will “leave a lot of space that needs to be filled”, adding: “I believe we have a problem that needs to be solved”.
TIA CEO: Domestic travel spend ‘not going to go anywhere near replacing’ international spend
Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) CEO Chris Roberts said domestic traveller spend is “not going to go anywhere near replacing” 2019’s total international visitor spend of NZD3 billion (USD2.2 billion). Mr Roberts said regions which previously experienced large amounts of international visitation have “been doing it hard… So the likes of Queenstown, Fiordland and Westland have still struggled right through this Christmas-New Year period”.
Fraport ‘optimistic’ that travel restrictions will begin to ease from spring 2021
Fraport chairman Dr Stefan Schulte said the company is “optimistic” that travel restrictions can start to be lifted gradually from spring 2021 due to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination programmes across Europe. He noted he expects Frankfurt Airport passenger traffic to “rebound noticeably” in 1H2021 but admitted that a “difficult year lies ahead of us”. Dr Schulte concluded: “While we are confident passenger traffic will exceed last year’s level, we still expect Frankfurt to reach only 35% to 45% of the 2019 level”.
A4E: European aviation will continue to be committed to sustainability post COVID-19
Airlines for Europe (A4E) MD Thomas Reynaert said “crisis or no crisis, European aviation has committed” to investing in sustainability and “will continue to be committed post COVID-19”. He added that “top priority” will be the process of deployment and development of sustainable aviation fuels at an affordable price, as well as harmonising fuel blending mandates at the EU level.